deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills, who played a prominent
role in President Clinton's
defense and now serves as a trustee for the Clinton library foundation,
took part in an Oval Office discussion with the president about the
Marc Rich pardon the night Clinton made his last-minute decision to
grant clemency to Rich, according to testimony and documents made
public today by the House Government Reform Committee.
Mills left White House employment in the fall of 1999. Several witnesses
at today's hearing former White House chief of staff John
Podesta, former White House counsel Beth Nolan, and former top Clinton
adviser Bruce Lindsey testified that Mills was often at the
White House in the year and a half after she left to become a senior
vice president at Oxygen Media, a television and internet firm devoted
to women's programming.
continued to be a trusted adviser to the president," Nolan told
the committee. Nolan said that in the last weeks of the administration,
Mills was at the White House frequently for end-of-term parties
and other events. On the chaotic evening of January 19, Clinton
called several advisers to the Oval Office to discuss his plans
to pardon a number of people who had been convicted or pled guilty
in the Whitewater, Mike Espy, and Henry Cisneros independent counsel
"I invited Ms. Mills to join that conversation," said Bruce Lindsey,
former close adviser to the president, citing Mills' expertise on
independent counsel issues. Lindsey testified that at the meeting,
Clinton raised the Rich pardon issue and that Mills took part in
that discussion, too. "I do not believe she took a position on it,"
Lindsey said, referring to the Rich case.
But it appears that Mills' involvement was greater than simply participating
in one meeting. Republicans on the committee also revealed that
Roger Adams, the pardons attorney in the Justice Department, has
told the committee he called the White House to discuss the Rich
matter and ended up discussing it with Mills, who spoke authoritatively
on the matter. Adams was apparently somewhat bewildered that a former
White House employee would be involved in pardon discussions.
In addition, the committee released a January 5, 2001 e-mail from
Robert Fink, a lawyer for Marc Rich in New York, to two other members
of the Rich team. "Here is the letter Jack [former White House counsel
Jack Quinn] just sent to the White House," Fink wrote. "As you may
notice his secretary said that Jack sent copies to Beth Nolan, Bruce
Lindsey and Cheryl Mills. April said they have clearance to deliver
it to the WH [White House], so it will get there this evening, presumably
before POTUS leaves for Camp David." Quinn told the committee that
he brought Mills into the case in an effort to help convince Clinton
to pardon Rich.
Earlier in the hearing, former Democratic National Committee finance
chair Beth Dozoretz appeared briefly before the committee. Connecticut
Republican Christopher Shays read to her from a January 10, 2001
e-mail from an associate of Rich's to Quinn. "DR [Rich's former
wife Denise] called from Aspen," the e-mail began. "Her friend B
[Dozoretz] who is with her got a call today from potus
who said he was impressed by JQ's [Quinn's] last letter and
that he wants to do it and is doing all possible to turn around
the WH counsels."
Shays asked Dozoretz why she discussed the Rich case with the president.
"Upon the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer
that question," Dozoretz said, citing her Fifth Amendment right
against self-incrimination. Shays asked whether she would refuse
to answer all questions on those grounds. She said yes.
Republican Bob Barr asked Dozoretz whether she would at least tell
the committee whether she intends to cooperate with the criminal
investigation being conducted by federal prosecutors in New York.
She declined to answer that, too.
another topic, the committee released information casting doubt
on one of Quinn's main arguments in favor of the Rich pardon. On
February 8, Quinn testified that he was frustrated at the "intransigence"
of federal prosecutors in New York who, Quinn said, were unwilling
to discuss the case with Rich. Quinn also testified that the prosecutors'
use of RICO, the racketeering statute, was the "sledgehammer" that
resulted in Rich's decision not to return to the United States to
Now it appears that prosecutors were not as inflexible as Quinn
contended. In his opening statement, committee chairman Dan Burton
announced that in 1999 the government offered to drop the RICO charges
against Rich if he would return to the U.S. to face trial. E-mails
between members of the Rich team indicate that prosecutors also
agreed to set a bail for Rich in advance so he would not have to
worry about being incarcerated before trial. Rich refused the government's
The committee also released information suggesting that the campaign
to win a pardon for Rich began significantly earlier than was previously
known. The idea was referred to in a February 10, 2000 e-mail from
Avner Azulay, one of Rich's top advisers to Robert Fink, the New
York lawyer. The e-mail discussed strategies to follow in the case
and concluded, "The present impasse leaves us with only one other
option: the unconventional approach which has not yet been tried
and which I have been proposing all along." That "unconventional
approach" was apparently the pardon initiative.
The next month, on March 18, 2000, Azulay again e-mailed Fink. "We
are reverting to the idea discussed with Abe [Anti-Defamation League
head Abraham Foxman]," the e-mail said, "which is to send DR [Denise
Rich] on a 'personal' mission to NO1. with a well-prepared script."
Congressional investigators believe "NO1." refers to the president.
Quinn testified that he had no recollection of any such discussion,
but he did not rule out the idea of early pardon discussions. "It
is entirely possible that...everyone of us involved in this thought
out loud with each other," Quinn testified. "It is possible that
we were involved in a conversation where someone said, 'You know,
we're going to have to try a pardon one of these days.'"
Finally, committee lawyers are preparing to examine the donor records
of the Clinton library. On Wednesday, Burton's lawyers saw a list
of approximately 150 people and companies who have given or pledged
at least $5,000 to the library. The next step, which will take place
on Friday, will be for them to see the amounts of those donations
and the dates they were given.
Because of their long and painstakingly detailed investigation of
the campaign finance scandal, experts on Burton's staff are familiar
with the names of most people who have given large sums of money
to the Democratic party and Clinton-related causes over the years.
Congressional sources say there are some unfamiliar names on the
library donor list. Investigators will want to find out who those
people are and whether they gave their own money to the library.